The company was founded in Bremen in 1906 as Kaffee-Handels-Aktien-Gesellschaft (Coffee Publicly Traded Company). The founder was Ludwig Roselius, who codeveloped the first commercial decaffeination process. Alfred Runge and Eduard Scotland designed iconic posters and packaging, and are credited with designs that defined the company.
In the 1920s and 1930s the company was known for the publication of the Coffee Hag albums of heraldic emblems.
The Kellogg Company purchased Roselius's American branch (based in Cleveland, Ohio) in 1928, then sold it to General Foods in 1939. General Foods acquired the original German company in 1979. In 1990 Kraft Foods merged with General Foods, thus HAG and Sanka became brands of the American company. The spelling Café HAG was standardized in the 1990s. HAG has been owned by Jacobs Douwe Egberts since 2015.
Café HAG TV adverts were popular in the 1980s; in particular the character Klaus (played by Roger Callister) became something of a cult figure among advertisement aficionados.
- "Caffe Hag". jacobsdouweegberts.com. JDE. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
- "Kaffee Hag". invaluable.com. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
- Oxford English Dictionary (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. 1989. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
- "Kellogg Acquires Kaffee Hag Firm". The Evening Independent. St. Petersburg, Fla. 4 February 1928. p. 3A.
- Pendergrast, Mark (2010), Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World (revised ed.), Basic Books, p. 187, ISBN 9780465024049
- TV Cream. 2009.